What is identity fraud?
Massachusetts law states:
“Whoever, with intent to defraud, poses as another person without the express authorization of that person and uses such person’s personal identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain money, credit, goods, services, anything of value, any identification card, or other evidence of such person’s identity, or to harass another, will be punished…”
In other words, a person who intentionally:
- Poses as another person
…without express authorization of that person and uses such person’s personal identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain (ANY):
- Anything of value
- Any identification card
- Other evidence of a person’s identity
…to harass another, is committing a crime and will be punished under Commonwealth law.
What needs to be proven to send someone to jail for identity fraud?
In order to prove a defendant guilty of the crime of identity fraud by posing as another, the Commonwealth must prove the four following elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the defendant posed as another person
- The defendant posed as another person without that person’s express authorization
- That the defendant used that person’s identifying information to obtain or attempt to obtain:
- Some other thing of value
- An identification card or other evidence of such a person’s identity
…to harass another person
- That the defendant did so with the intent to defraud
To prove the first element of the offense, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant falsely represented himself or herself directly or indirectly, as another person or persons.
To prove the third element of the offense, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant used another person’s personal identifying information. Such information includes any name or number that can be used, alone or with any other information, to assume the identity of an individual or to harass an individual.
What does the law mean by posing as another?
To “pose” means to falsely represent oneself, either directly or indirectly, as another person or persons.
What is the legal definition of harassment?
Legally, to prove that the defendant intended to harass an individual, the Commonwealth must prove that he or she willfully and maliciously intended to engage in an act directed at a specific person or persons, which would seriously alarm of annoy that person or persons and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.
An act is considered to be “willful” if it is done intentionally and by design, in contrast to an act that is done accidentally. The defendant acted willfully if the defendant intended both the conduct and its harmful consequences.
An act is done with “malice” if it is intentional and without justification or mitigation, and any reasonably prudent person would have foreseen the actual harm that resulted. The requirement of malice does not require a showing of cruelty, hostility, or revenge, nor does it require an actual intent to cause the required harm. The only requirement is that the conduct is intentional and without justification or mitigation and that any reasonable person would have foreseen the actual harm that resulted. To act with malice, a person must act not only deliberately, but out of hostility toward the alleged victim.
Remember that identity fraud by posing as another is not the same criminal offense as criminal harassment. Also note that harassing or obscene telephone calls or electronic communications is a different offense as well.
What is personal identifying information?
All of the following are examples of person identifying information:
- Telephone number
- Driver’s license number
- Social security number
- Place of employment
- Employee identification number
- Mother’s maiden name
- Demand deposit account number
- Savings account number
- Credit card number
- Computer password identification
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH IDENTITY FRAUD BY POSING AS ANOTHER, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.